Louisiana public school students ranged from 43rd to 49th nationally in reading and math in the latest installment of the nation’s report card, which was released late Tuesday night.

The exam, called the National Assessment for Educational Progress, measured how select fourth- and eighth-graders did in reading and math.

The results show that fourth-graders were ranked 43rd nationally in reading, an improvement over 47th in 2013 and 50th in 2009. Fourth-graders finished 45th in the nation in math, an improvement over 49th two years ago.

Eighth-graders were 48th in reading, the same as 2013, and 49th in math, down a spot from 48th two years ago.

The tests generally include about 2,500 students per grade in about 100 public schools for each subject. Roughly 30 students per grade per subject are selected randomly at each school, and each student is assessed in only one subject.

The results were released less than one week after state leaders announced how about 320,000 students statewide fared on the first round of Common Core tests.

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Under a change in state policy, the new benchmark is the fourth of five achievement levels — called mastery — as part of a bid to better link state and national standards.

Louisiana students have long finished near the bottom on NAEP scores.

Nationally, average math scores dropped for fourth- and eighth-graders. Reading scores held steady for fourth-graders but slipped for eighth-graders.

State Superintendent of Education John White repeatedly has said Louisiana’s achievement bar needs to be raised to ensure that students are ready for education after high school.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/